Corn Commentary

MO Corn Honored for Service

In recognition of the hard work Missouri corn growers put forth to grow our state’s agricultural industry, Missouri’s Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder presented the Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) with a declaration last week at the state capitol. The “Declaration in Support of Agriculture Service” was given to highlight MCGA’s contribution to the success of Missouri’s agriculture industry and encourage a future relationship between the Lt. Governor’s office and Missouri Corn in order to meet the needs of the state’s most vital industry.

Pictured with Lt. Governor Kinder are Jayne Glosemeyer, Missouri Corn Merchandising Council chairwoman; Mike Geske, Missouri Corn Growers Association president; and Ashley McCarty, MCGA director of public policy.

A Look at China’s Corn Crop

Representatives of the U.S. Grains Council recently returned from their China Corn Tour, which is conducted every year to try and get a handle on production, yields and demand, since there is no source of reliable corn crop estimates from the Chinese government. The tour consisted of four groups of agriculturists evaluating nearly 300 cornfields.

Charles Ring of the Texas Corn Producers Board was with the group that toured corn fields in the Northeastern provinces of Heilonjiang and Jilin. He is also the team leader of the Council’s Asia Advisory Team and is pictured here with a Chinese farming family. “The farmers in China are very efficient with what they have,” observed Ring. “They don’t waste anything and family is the central point of their work.”

What the groups were able to determine on their tours was that higher corn yields are expected in China for 2008 compared to 2007 resulting in a crop of 153.54 million metric tons – or about 6 billion bushels. According to Cary Sifferath, U.S. Grains Council senior director in China, the national average yield for all provinces is 5.28 tons per hectare (84 bushels per acre) with Jilin province showing the highest yield the tour saw in terms of production at 111 bushels per acre.

Despite the improved yield numbers in 2008, there seems to be little sign that China will begin exporting corn anytime soon as the government has been trying to control food inflation. “The government has virtually shut down exports of corn, wheat and rice. Other than a few sales trying to go through, there are no real exports going on at all,” Sifferath said. He also said feed demand in China is increasing with more corn going into the country’s swine industry.

Spreading the News About DDGs

In the ethanol discussion, the contributions of distillers grains are often overlooked. This high protein feedstock produced in the corn-based ethanol process is adding competitively priced feed into the supply chain for livestock producers.

“We use approximately 100 million bushels of corn for ethanol production in Missouri, yet one-third of that corn comes back into the food chain in the form of distillers grains,” said Jayne Glosemeyer, retiring chairwoman for the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council. “Distillers grains really are ethanol’s untold story.”

As a way to spread the word about distillers grains, the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council recently partnered with the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association and the University of Nebraska to develop an informational publication explaining the various types of distillers grains, storage techniques and ration incorporation.

The publication can be downloaded as a pdf here.

Wisconsin Corn Celebrates New E85 Station

The Beaver Dam United Cooperative Cenex Convenience Store is giving away free gift cards this Saturday with qualified purchases of 85 percent ethanol fuel as part of a statewide celebration recognizing ethanol’s contribution to the state’s economy and improved air quality.

During the Beaver Dam event, the first 85 Flex Fuel Vehicle (FFV) owners who purchase 8.5 gallons or more of E85 between 10 a.m. and noon at local Cenex Store September 20 receive a $20 Cenex gift card courtesy of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. This is the latest in a series of events celebrating E85 and marking the 100th anniversary of the American Lung Association of the upper Midwest.

“E85 fuel is recognized as a Clean Air ChoiceTM by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, so it is very appropriate that we celebrate our organization’s anniversary – and 100 years of better breathing – at the same time the state is marking its 100th E85 fueling station,” says Dona Wininsky, Director of Public Policy and Communications for the Lung Association.

“With gasoline prices approaching $4 per gallon, American consumers must realize that ethanol and the country’s Renewable Fuels Standards are part of the solution for rising food and energy costs,” says Randy Woodruff, president of the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association. “Americans are saving billions of dollars at the pump thanks to biofuels and several recent studies have disproved big oils contention that corn prices are driving up food prices.”

Nothing Funny About This Ethanol Promoter

Mark ThomasIf you go by the Ohio Corn Growers Association exhibit at the Farm Science Review you’ll meet one of the most passionate promoters of ethanol I know. He’s 5 time IHRA Funny Car Champion Mark Thomas. Here he is explaining his car to an FFA student.

Mark is not only a professional drag racer but a farmer himself. He has 500 Holstein cows and farms 2,200 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat, and alfalfa. You’d think that would be enough to keep him busy!

One of his passions is ethanol. He basically grows his own fuel and has had a mission to help educate the public about this renewable energy source. So that’s part of his message here at the show. I asked him about how his farm business was going. He says that the past year or so has been pretty good but it’s basically making up for years that weren’t so good. However, he says that there’s a lot of uncertainty about the future and with the problems lately in financial markets there’s good reason to wonder.

He says the question he gets asked most often standing by his funny car is, “How much horse power?” It’s got 3,000 HP and goes from zero to 250 mph in 5.7 seconds! Of course he runs on ethanol and he says the car uses just over a gallon of ethanol per second.

You can listen to my interview with Mark here: [audio:]

Ohio Corn Growers Helping Educate Farmers

Ohio Corn GrowersIt’s always good to see what the various state corn grower organizations are doing. Right now the Ohio Corn Growers Association have a nice building getting lots of activity on the grounds of the Farm Science Review. One of their board members has been involved with it for many years. He’s Ron Rockhold, pictured on the right. Ron says he farms in southern Fayette County and has been on the board for going on 20 years. He spends one day working in the exhibit and one day with his brother “taking in the sights.”

Ron says this show is a great thing for agriculture. He says the message they’re trying to get across to growers is what’s happening with legislation, especially the farm bill and the rfs standard. In fact, he says, “. . . talking about the RFS which is even more important than the farm bill because it increases the demand for corn and has raised the price of corn to where farmers are getting their money from the market now instead of from the government.” That’s something he says he’s always wanted to see.

You can listen to my interview with Ron here: [audio:]

Ethanol Means Rural Prosperity

Many people support ethanol because it’s a cleaner fuel than gasoline, better for the environment and helps us reduce our dependency on foreign oil. But it really means much more to our nation than even those important reasons.

NE Corn“It’s about small town diners, grocery stores, schools, libraries and churches,” said Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board. “Ethanol, by being produced across rural Nebraska and rural America, benefits all of these community-based businesses and groups. It does this by generating economic activity and taxes, which touches nearly every business, school and organization in town.”

Hutchens said the rural development aspect to ethanol should not be overlooked. “Ethanol production is well-suited to smaller communities, places that some people haven’t heard of,” he said. “Yet we all benefit because of the clean-burning fuel the ethanol plants produce. They add to our fuel supply and reduce oil imports, which saves us all money at the pump.”

To celebrate ethanol – and all renewable fuels – and what they contribute to Nebraska and the country as a whole, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman will declare September Renewable Fuels Month at Husker Harvest Days this Wednesday.

Colorado Corn Celebrates E85 Openings

Colorado Corn Growers are celebrating the grand openings of new E85 fueling stations opening in the Centennial State this month.

The events will take place at the Eagle Travel Stop in Sterling on September 16 and Western Convenience in Montrose on September 23.

The Colorado Corn Growers Association is joining with the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition to help sponsor the events which will feature live remotes, hot dogs, refreshments, flex-fuel vehicles and fuel promotions.

The addition of these two new E85 facilities will bring the total of E85 stations in the state to 70.

Corn at AgNite

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association was one of the top five sponsors for the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council AgNite event on Tuesday, held in conjunction with the Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities.

“The top five platinum sponsors are all Minnesota-based companies or organizations and we were thrilled that they came on board early to sponsor the event,” said council executive director Daryn McBeth. “The food and ag industry is important, it’s Minnesota’s second largest industry, it’s as far away as your next meal and we felt that with this opportunity with so many influencers and media in town for the convention, that in a non-partisan way we could take advantage of that and showcase this important industry.”

The venue and set-up for the event was nothing short of spectacular and extremely well done. The historic Minnesota Depot was skirted on the outside with potted corn stalks and inside the 60,000 square foot area was dotted with comfortable seating around video screens where those attending could just relax and enjoy the food and refreshments while taking in some information about the various agricultural sponsors. Unlike a trade show, it allowed people to take it all in just by the atmosphere. And it showed that agriculture could really throw one heck of a high-class party. There are always multiple outside evening events at political conventions, but the AgNite event was “the go-to” party that evening.

That was a relief to the organizers, who did have some concerns over the weekend when Hurricane Gustav threatened to wash out their plans. But, as it turned out, the attendance for the invitation-only event exceeded all expectations. As someone said, “What if you threw a party and everyone showed up?” Maybe not everybody – I don’t think John McCain made it – but the organizers were still quite pleased with the turnout.

United State for Agriculture

The AgNite event sponsored by the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council on the second night of the Republican National Convention was a model of what agriculture should be nationwide – united.

Agribusiness companies and organizations of all stripes united to showcase the food, fuel and agriculture industries for the delegates and policy makers in the Twin Cities for the convention. The event’s top sponsors included the Minnesota Corn Growers, CHS, Land O’ Lakes, Hormel and AgStar – growers, food processors, co-ops – the meat industry and the grain industry … everyone put their differences aside, both political and policy, for at least one evening to unite for agriculture. Unofficial estimates put the crowd during the night at over 4,000 – a tremendous turnout that exceeded expectations. It was a beautiful thing.

Let’s keep that momentum going.

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